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New I-10 Bridge? Don’t Hold Your Breath

Kristian Bland
Kristian Bland

Last night, the DOTD hosted a public forum in Lake Charles to discuss the I-10 Bridge Project, and to present possible solutions and alternatives to the ailing structure. Which means that, this morning, you’ve probably already seen at least one positive story about how we’re finally getting a new bridge! Everybody celebrate!

Not so fast there, pilgrim.

Not to rain on the PR parade or anything, but we’ve heard all of this before. It seems like, whenever public outcry reaches a certain level, the DOTD rides into town with some pacifying talking points and vague promises to quiet everybody down. Then, we wait and we wait and we…eventually forget about it after a whole lot of nothing happens. Until, of course, the next time the public gets upset enough, which is when the whole things starts over again.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

When people began yelling too loudly about a new bridge a decade ago, we heard that one was on the way – but then had to be put on hold in 2008 due to the EDC contamination.

Four years later, we were reminded of why nothing had been done about the bridge when the DOTD filed a lawsuit against Conoco Phillips (Phillips 66) and Sasol, seeking $235 million to cover what it claimed would be increased costs for a new bridge due to the EDC contamination. Which is when Phillips and Sasol fired back with the need for an independent Environmental Impact Study, because they said the contamination wasn’t in the proposed path of a new bridge.

A year after that, in 2013, when people were getting really angry again, the DOTD hosted a public forum in Lake Charles to discuss the I-10 Bridge Project, and to present possible solutions and alternatives to the ailing structure – and if any of that sounds familiar, it’s because I just copied the first sentence of this article and pasted it down here.

Everything old is new again, folks.

If you look closely at what DOTD presented at last night’s meeting, it’s really just a reworking of the same bullet points they trotted out four years ago in 2013, with a bit of new stuff tacked on, like how a new bridge would probably involve tolls, because everyone knows we’re not already taxed or nickel-and-dimed to death around here or anything.

Still, who knows? Maybe things are different now, and progress will actually start to happen – but I wouldn’t hold your breath.

  • At 2013’s meeting, DOTD said they’d like to have a plan in place by 2016.
  • At last night’s meeting, DOTD said they’d like to have a plan in place by 2019.
  • At 2019’s meeting, will DOTD say they’d like to have a plan in place by 2022?

Smoke, mirrors, and still no new bridge. Until we see the first signs of actual, honest, and real construction gearing up to get started, you’re going to have to excuse me if I remain skeptical.

READ MORE: The I-10 Bridge: It’s Worse Than You Think

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